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Bill Gates, Travis Kalanick Invest In AI Chip Company Luminous

Jayson Derrick

Luminous is a startup producing artificial intelligence chips that use silicon photonics to quickly transfer data through light inside small settings such as servers.

The company is now backed by a roster of tech innovators, including Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) co-founder Travis Kalanick and current Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, CNBC reported Tuesday.

What Happened

Luminous hopes one day its chip can replace 3,000 boards containing Google's Tensor Processing Unit AI chips, CEO Marcus Gomez told CNBC in an interview.

The company raised $9 million in funding in the seed round, according to the report. Other notable investors include tech investor Ali Partovi's Neo fund ; he told CNBC he prefers investing in a "young team" like Luminous.

"While there's certainly a ton of risk, that's what makes it worth investing now: if the race was already over, it would be too late to invest." 

Why It's Important

The seven-person team at Luminous hopes to sell its chips to multiple cloud providers along with companies that operate drones, robots, self-driving cars and other next-generation technologies.

"We know this works because we already have working silicon," Gomez said.

What's Next

Gomez told CNBC it is difficult to predict when his company's chips will be made available for purchase. The company faces competition from other startups like Lightmatter and Lightelligence, both of which also use silicon photonics technologies.

"We're using exact same technologies that everyone else is using, and so as a consequence, our timelines are on similar paths to other companies," the CEO said. 

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